An Open Letter From 2,600+ Returned Peace Corps Volunteers

A month ago, a proud community of more than 225,000 Returned Peace Corps Volunteers – who have served our country and world by working with, learning from, and living among people in 141 countries since 1961 – signed an open letter to one of the countries we love, the United States.

I just found out about this today, but if I had known sooner, you would have seen me as approximately #1769!

Seriously, though, in my time in Jordan as a Peace Corps Volunteer, I was warmly embraced as a teacher, a learner, a sister, a daughter, an aunt, a friend, a neighbor….

Sometimes, waiting for the bus to depart for home after grocery shopping, someone would stick their head in the door and ask the driver, “What’s that ajnabiyya doing on this bus?” and the driver would always say the same thing: “That’s no foreigner! That’s our daughter, Maryah al-HaraHsheh.”

Later, when I returned to Jordan for another two years, on more than one occasion I walked into a shop or got into a taxi, struck up a conversation with the proprietor, and as I was leaving, he would say, “You know, when you first came in here, I thought you were a foreigner.”

Despite the occupation and insurgency in Iraq, no matter the posturing between Pres. Bush and Pres. Assad in Syria, regardless of events in Palestine, even despite the economic depression and a horrific Al Qaeda attack in Jordan itself while I was there, I was embraced as a human being.

Iranians, Somalis, Yemenis, Sudanese, Syrians, Libyans, Afghans, Iraqis, Kurds, Mexicans, refugees…. They all deserve to be embraced equally as human beings here in the United States. They’re not “some of them” good people. They are almost all of them good people, and we have systems, redundancies, safeguards and legal recourse already in place to make sure that we weed out the ones who aren’t. You’re more likely to die at the hands of a toddler with a gun, or a police officer, or in the teeth of a shark than at the hands of a refugee

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